What is PTSD?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop in response to exposure to an extreme traumatic event. These traumatic events may include military combat, violent personal assaults (e.g., rape, mugging, robbery), terrorist attacks, natural or man-made disasters, or serious accidents. The trauma can be directly experienced or witnessed in another person, and involves actual or threatened death, serious injury or threat to one's physical integrity. The person's response to the event is one of intense fear or helplessness.
What are some possible behaviors associated with PTSD?
Many people with PTSD repeatedly re-experience their ordeal in the form of flashback episodes, intrusive recollections of the event and nightmares. A stress reaction may be provoked when individuals are exposed to events or situations that remind them of the traumatic event. Avoidance of those triggering cues is a very significant feature of PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD may also include feeling detached from others, emotional "numbing," difficulty sleeping, problems concentrating, irritability, being hyper-alert to danger, feeling "on edge," and an exaggerated startle response. PTSD symptoms usually emerge within a few months of the traumatic event; however symptoms may appear many months or even years following a traumatic event. It is normal for most people to experience some symptoms following a traumatic event. PTSD diagnoses are based on the intensity and duration of these symptoms. For many, PTSD symptoms will resolve completely while, for others, symptoms may persist for many years.
How prevalent is PTSD?
Studies suggest that about 8% of the U.S. population (approximately 24 million people) will develop PTSD at some point in their lives. Compared to men, women are about twice as vulnerable to developing PTSD following a traumatic event. Among military veterans, PTSD is quite common. Approximately 30% of Vietnam War veterans experience PTSD over the course of their lifetimes. Recent data compiled by the Rand Corporation suggest that approximately one in five service members who return from deployment operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have symptoms of PTSD or depression.
Is PTSD a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet. Therefore, some people with PTSD will have a disability under the ADA and some will not. A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, visit http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/adaaa_info.cfm
Are employees with PTSD required to disclose their disability to their employers?
No. Employees need only disclose their disability if/when they need an accommodation to perform the essential functions of the job. Applicants never have to disclose a disability on a job application, or in the job interview, unless they need an accommodation to assist them in the application or interview process.
Can an employer ask an employee with PTSD to submit to a medical examination?
Yes, if the need for the medical examination is job-related and consistent with business necessity. Typically, employers will ask an employee with PTSD to submit to a medical examination (also called a fitness-for-duty exam) after the employee has an incident on the job that leads the employer to believe that the employee is unable to perform the job, or to determine if the employee can safely return to work, and if any accommodations will be needed on the job.
Do employees with PTSD pose a direct threat to themselves or others?
In general, people do not pose a direct threat to themselves or others solely by virtue of having been diagnosed with PTSD. Employees who effectively manage their symptoms through medication or psychotherapy are very unlikely to pose a threat to themselves or others. Employers can also help reduce the overall stress in the work environment or mitigate known vulnerabilities to stress by providing a job accommodation.
How and when does a person with PTSD ask for an accommodation?
An employee with PTSD can ask for an accommodation at any time when he/she needs an accommodation to perform the essential functions of the job. The employee can make a request verbally or in writing and is responsible for providing documentation of a disability.
Can an employer discipline an employee with PTSD who violates conduct or performance standards?
Yes, an employer can discipline an employee with PTSD who violates conduct standards or fails to meet performance standards, even if the exhibited behavior is influenced by the employee's disability, as long as the employer imposes the same discipline on an employee without a disability who violates conduct or performance standards. However, an employer is obligated to consider reasonable accommodations to help the employee with PTSD meet the conduct or performance standards.
Why does employment play such an important role in the recovery of returning service members with PTSD?
Employment enables many people with disabilities and combat-related conditions, including those with PTSD, to fully participate in society. In fact, according to the National Council on Disability, people who regain employment following the onset of a disability report higher life satisfaction and better adjustment than do people who are not employed. At the most fundamental level, employment generates income that is vital to individual and family economic well-being. Given how closely our identities are tied to our occupation, employment plays a critical role in maintaining our self-concept. Further, employment affords opportunities to experience success and build self-esteem, which are critical elements toward psychological health. It facilitates social interaction and connections that can reduce the isolation that is commonly experienced through depression and PTSD. For these reasons, gainful employment can be an important component in the recovery and rehabilitation of people with PTSD.
What challenges might people with PTSD encounter in the workplace?
Although their condition may not be visible, service members with PTSD may face some difficulties-especially with respect to employment. These individuals may experience memory deficits, difficulty sustaining concentration, disorganization, and poor sleep patterns, among other challenges. All of these can interfere with everyday activities, inside and outside of the workplace.
How can employers help people with PTSD do their jobs more effectively?
A variety of promising practices can help people with PTSD succeed in the workplace. These include:
* Flexible work schedules and/or job sharing with another employee.
* Schedule-reminders (telephone, pagers, alarm clocks).
* Scheduled rest breaks to prevent stimulus overload and fatigue.
* Work task checklists, clipboards and tape recorders as memory aids.
* Stop watches or timers for time management.
* Job coaches who make frequent, scheduled site visits.
* White noise or environmental sound machines (to help eliminate distractions).
* Mentoring by a co-worker or retired worker.
* Providing encouragement, moral support, and a listening ear.
* Understanding that PTSD and symptoms of any psychological condition may ebb and flow, and that the person may experience good days and more challenging days.
* Support for pursuing treatment and assistance, even during work hours. Employers should know that treatment is a process that can be effective in managing psychological symptoms and conditions. Supporting employees in their need to regularly follow up or comply with treatment recommendations is an important part of their recovery.
What resources are available to help employers meet the needs of employees with PTSD?
The America's Heroes at Work Web site http://www.AmericasHeroesAtWork.gov -features numerous tools and resources to help employers and workforce development professionals understand and address the needs of employees with PTSD. It offers additional fact sheets on PTSD-related job accommodations, as well as links to the Web sites of other agencies and organizations such as:
* The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury
* The National Center for PTSD
* Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve
* Hire Vets First
* The Job Accommodation Network
This fact sheet was developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Disability Employment Policy, the Job Accommodation Network, the Veterans' Employment and Training Service, the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, and the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.
Myths about PTSD
Dispelling the Myths About Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) & Other Psychological Health Issues
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop in response to a traumatic event. While exposure to a traumatic event is not uncommon (approximately half of all men and women experience this magnitude of trauma), about 8% of the U.S. population (approximately 24 million people) will develop PTSD at some point in their lives. Among military veterans, PTSD is quite common. Approximately 30% of Vietnam War veterans experience PTSD over the course of their lifetimes, and recent data compiled by the Rand Corporation suggest that approximately one in five service members who return from deployment operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have symptoms of PTSD or depression.
While many suffering from PTSD and other psychological conditions may benefit from treatment and support, only about half seek it. For many, a common barrier to seeking care is the stigma associated with their psychological symptoms or condition-that is, the bias, embarrassment, shame or fear of negative reaction from others.
Employers are in a powerful position to help debunk such misperceptions. After arming themselves with the facts, they can use their knowledge to educate others and to support the social inclusion and acceptance of people with PTSD and other psychological conditions. Understanding, support and a positive employment experience can make a real difference in the life of a person who needs them.
Myth: PTSD is brought on by a weakness of character.
Fact: PTSD, like other mental disorders, is a product of the complex interaction of biological, psychological, historical and social factors. It is not the result of moral failing or weakness in character. Mental health conditions are common and studies suggest that about half of all Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable psychological condition sometime during their lives. Experiencing psychological symptoms or conditions should not be viewed any differently than experiencing a physical condition.
Myth: People with PTSD are violent and unpredictable.
Fact: Beliefs that violence and unpredictability are associated with serious mental problems are common, but untrue. This misguided fear is one of the most prominent barriers to acceptance and social inclusion. In reality, the presence of PTSD or a psychological condition does not make someone prone to violence. Therefore, someone with PTSD or some other psychological condition should not be viewed as a threat in the workplace.
Myth: People with PTSD cannot tolerate the stress of holding down a job.
Fact: All jobs are stressful to some extent. Anyone is more productive when there's a good match between the employee's needs and the working conditions, regardless of whether the worker has a mental health problem. Work performance, for any individual, is determined by the balance of internal or external stressors and that individual's tolerance for stress. With many psychological conditions, including PTSD, the severity level and the course of recovery may vary widely. Taking this into consideration will help any employer improve their gauge of workload and performance.
Myth: People with PTSD, even those who have recovered, tend to be second-rate workers.
Fact: Employers who have hired people with mental illnesses report good attendance and punctuality as well as motivation, good work and job tenure on par with or greater than other employees. Studies by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) show that there are no differences in productivity when people with mental illnesses are compared to other employees. (Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, 1999)
Myth: Once people develop PTSD, they will never recover.
Fact: Studies show that most people with PTSD and other mental illnesses get better, and many recover completely. Recovery refers to the process in which people are able to live, work, learn and participate fully in their communities. For some individuals, recovery is the ability to live a fulfilling and productive life. For others, recovery implies the reduction or complete remission of symptoms. Science has shown that hope plays an integral role in an individual's recovery.
Myth: Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why bother when you can just take a pill?
Fact: Treatment and supports vary depending on the individual. A lot of people work with therapists, counselors, friends, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses and social workers during the recovery process. They also use self-help strategies and community supports. Some choose medications in combination with other supports. The best approach is tailored to meet the specific needs and choices of the individual.
Myth: I can't do anything for a person with PTSD.
Fact: You can do a great deal, starting with how you act and speak. You can create an environment that builds on people's strengths and promotes understanding. For example:
* Don't label people with words like "crazy," "wacko" or "loony" or define them by their diagnosis. It's important to make a distinction between the person and the illness. Instead of saying someone is "mentally-ill," say he or she "has PTSD." Don't say "a mentally-ill person," say "a person with PTSD." This is called "people-first" language.
* Learn the facts about mental health and PTSD and share them with others, especially if you hear something that isn't true. If you employ people with PTSD in your workplace, consider hosting workshops to educate supervisors and coworkers on the facts.
* Treat people with PTSD and other mental illnesses with respect and dignity, just as you would anybody else.
* Respect the rights of people with PTSD and other mental illnesses and don't discriminate against them--especially when it comes to employment. Like other people with disabilities, people with mental health problems are protected under federal and state laws.
Additional information about PTSD and employment can be found on the America's Heroes at Work Web site: http://www.AmericasHeroesAtWork.gov.
This fact sheet was developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Disability Employment Policy, the Job Accommodation Network, the Veterans' Employment and Training Service, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, and the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.
ARCHIVED RESOURCE: http://www.americasheroesatwork.gov
The link is no longer correct but it is from U.S Dept. of Labor gov site. It's just that I had this from the other forum and it's important for people to read.